2009-2010 Transportation Service Indicators Report

Sunday, August 8, 2010
Education & Busing
Rob Hamby

The Transportation Service Indicator Report is released annually by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and compiled at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute in cooperation with the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University. 

This report summarizes operational data for every North Carolina public school district.  Based on data from the TIMS (see below), this report provides some of the most comprehensive operational data on pupil transportation available anywhere in the US. 

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The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has traditionally provided a high level of direct funding to Local Education Agencies for pupil transportation.  In response to large annual increases in transportation expenses in the 1970s and 1980s, DPI implemented two tools intended to curb the growth.  In 1986, DPI began funding the Transportation Information Management System (TIMS).   TIMS provided a tool that Local Education Agencies could use to increase efficiency by optimizing school bus routes, stop locations and school bell times.  The use of TIMS or a like system was mandated in 1992.  In 1990, DPI implemented a transportation funding formula that tied funding to efficiency.   Differences between projected and actual trends for years following the implementation of these tools indicate that they have had a positive effect on expenditure growth.  

In 2006, the North Carolina State Board of Education commissioned a study to evaluate whether the transportation funding formula resulted in an equitable distribution of funds among the 115 city and county Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in the State.  The study resulted in ‘A Report on the Public School Funding Transportation Allotment in North Carolina’.   One concern expressed in the report was that LEAs’ efforts to increase the proportion of their transportation expenditurescovered by State funds may have resulted in service being traded for efficiency.   The report recommended that, in order to emphasize service delivery and safety, NCDPI make key safety and service delivery statistics for each LEA publicly available.   These statistics, which have come to be known as the service indicators, are calculated and published annually by the TIMS project office at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute as the ‘North Carolina Pupil Transportation Service Indicators Report’.